Rio de Janeiro's world-famous samba school parades held their grand finale as the five-day-long Carnival celebration ends on ash Wednesday. Samba schools paraded giant floats starting Friday night, singing and dancing past masses of spectators at the city's Sambadrome. Some members of the schools hung upside down while others flew in giant butterfly costumes.
On Sunday, a tropical deluge soaked feather-clad dancers and wildly costumed musicians, dumping rain on tennis star Rafael Nadal as he made a cameo appearance.
The samba schools were competing for the best performance, which will be announced later in the week.
Carnival also exploded at hundreds of alcohol-soaked street parties, where one reveler brought two costume-clad dogs that watched the party from a baby stroller. Another reveler dressed up as Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and a group of friends dressed up as nuns. A family in angel and devil costumes peered from their homes' windows to watch a "bloco" street party go by.
In the nearby town of Paraty, people played at the "Mud Block" carnival party. Legend has it the tradition was born in 1986 after local teens hiking in a nearby mangrove forest smeared themselves with mud to discourage mosquitoes and then wandered through Paraty. The party grew year after year, but revelers eventually were banned from parading in the colonial downtown after shopkeepers complained pristine white walls were stained with the hard-to-remove mud.
Text from AP news story, AP Photos: Rio's Carnival reaches Grand Finale.
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